Team GB continued its remarkable success in 2011 with a Gold and Silver medal at the European Youth Championships.
Alistair Brownlee, Helen Jenkins et al have shown in recent weeks to be amongst the best in the world and here in Tours, the GB Youths served warning that the future remains equally as bright for Team GB.
Marc Austin, Miles Burton and Gordon Benson narrowly defeated their French counterparts to first place in the Boys race. Sophie Caldwell, Ellen MacArthur and Kate Curran had to settle for second place as the French Girls team of Léonie Periault, Jeanne Lehair and Justine Guerard delighted the home crowd with victory.
Girls Race Review
Caldwell (GBR), Periault (FRA) and Horvath (HUN) set their stall immediately and led from the front during the first relay leg. Each athlete had to complete a 350m swim, 9km bike and a 2.5km run.
By the end of the first leg the leading contenders were down to four nations and by the second leg the GB, French and Hungarian teams had established what looked to be an unassailable lead over the remaining field.
The podium positions would be settled by the final leg where Guerard (FRA) widened the gap on the bike giving her over a minute’s lead going out of T2 and onto the final run.
Guerard’s lead was cut but she remained comfortable out in front and crossed the line for victory. Curran (GBR) and Fuchs (HUN) continued to battle for second and it was the Brit who did just enough to secure second spot.
The winning French team of Periault, Lehair and Guerard said: “We are very pleased to have won, it was new for us because we did not know the level of other teams.”
The trio paid tribute to the home crowd, “On the run home, it gives you wings, you feel encouraged. It is a great day for us.”
Boys Race Review
The Boys race began as a really tight affair with 19 out of the 20 competing teams staying close together throughout the opening swim and cycle.
It wasn’t until the first run that a breakaway occurred, led by Brit Austin and two French athletes Bouisson and Gentet – representing two teams. Other nations followed as the large group became fragmented.
The gap increased in the second leg as Coninx and Nitsche (FRA) ran neck and neck alongside Burton (GBR) with Terekhov (RUS) and Kiraly (HUN) fighting hard and remaining in contention.
As we entered the third and deciding leg it was the Frenchman Montoya who led Pap (HUN), Barzudin (RUS) and Benson (GBR). Montoya pushed hard on the bike but was eventually caught by Pap before T2.
In an incredibly exciting finale an excellent run By Benson propelled the British team to the front and onto the top of the podium. Barzudin of Russia came home in second and Montoya pipped Pap in a sprint finish to make third place.
The disappointment for the Hungarian team was short lasting as an unfortunate disqualification for the Russian team for missing a time penalty elevated the French into second and presented the Hungarians with a bronze medal.
Photos: The winning French Youth team/Gordon Benson crosses the line for GB Victory